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Ratmansky's Swan Lake. American Premiere. 02/11/22


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Well well well. This is supposed to be a solid sunny weekend. The beaches are turquoise blue, there's no mask mandates and Ratmansky's Swan Lake is premiering at the Arsht Center.

Isn't life beautiful..?😍😍😍

 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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Just came back form the performance.  Mixed emotions here. A quick recap:

Major pluses- Mime, mime and more mime, and tempi...quick, quicker, the quickest ! At times quicker than Peter Martins', which is the quickest I had ever seen until Ratmansky's .

Crazy but lovely "old new" stuff, movement related. Triple tours right and left, lots of demi pointe-( some corps struggled with the demi chainees )- lots of batteries and petite allegro and some unconventional poses, like Odette standing on top of Benno's leg at the end of their Act II  lakeside Pas de deux a trois. There's one pose I love that Ratmansky seems to favor a lot, shown in many Imperial era photographs.  That of the ballerina being held straight on her back with her arms en couronne-( final pose of Balanchine’s Sugarplum pdd coda).  Just lovely. 

Act I and II are glorious, more than act III and IV,  Imo. The Valse Campetre with  stools is just a marvel of movement and patterns. The pas de trois of Act II with Benno as a helper is just beautiful...romantic yet vibrant. No endless notes and phrases. No exposed crotches, no 6 o'clock penchees. It is all fluid, elegant and just great. 

To be continued, but not finishing this post before stating this firm and loud:

IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE REAL ENDING OF SWAN LAKE AT ITS MOST CLEAR AND UNDERSTANDABLE, GO SEE ABT'S.

"He dicho"

Again....to be continued.

Fouetteometer: 25 singles from Katia Carranza.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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Thank you for the report. I would love to have seen this—I have been especially curious about the Act I waltz.

I can’t help saying in response to your ABT recommendation that I think David Blair’s ABT production was —for choreography and storytelling—better than their current one.  

Edited by Drew
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4 hours ago, Drew said:

Thank you for the report. I would love to have seen this—I have been especially curious about the Act I waltz.

I can’t help saying in response to your ABT recommendation that I think David Blair’s ABT production was —for choreography and storytelling—better than their current one.  

It's all about the double suicide/reunion in heaven issue. Ratmansky goes in the same way as L. Scarlett, with a stage back jump, which is quite dark and not very visible, the dancers giving their backs to the audience. Then Rothbart's death is not very clear either, and the reunion happens in a swan-like sledge or boat across the lake, and not up in the sky. In ABT it is clear, even for the neophyte,  that these two have died and are reunited in the afterlife. Not here.

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Matinee intermission.

The ballroom act has its ups and downs. Here, again, I give McKenzie the crown, with his unique treatment of VonRothbart and his wonderful dance with the princesses.  Peter Martins gives us the great deleted by Petipa "Dance of the Dwarfs ", for the three kids and the jester.  Ratmansky goes pretty basic here, probably the closest to Petipa we can get. Fandango, Tarantella-( with the boys carrying lutes), Czardas-( all the men sporting beards)- and Mazurka. And then the pdd, with the nice vintage touches we have all seen from the available YouTube videos. 

This is allegedly the 95 Drigo's edition of the score, and so in giving way to authenticity,  we lose quite a bit of Tchaikovsky.  Lots of cuts everywhere, particularly at the "revealing of Odile" climax.

Fouetteometer alert: Again, 25 singles on Jennifer Lauren.

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4 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Matinee intermission.

The ballroom act has its ups and downs. Here, again, I give McKenzie the crown, with his unique treatment of VonRothbart and his wonderful dance with the princesses.  Peter Martins gives us the great deleted by Petipa "Dance of the Dwarfs ", for the three kids and the jester.  Ratmansky goes pretty basic here, probably the closest to Petipa we can get. Fandango, Tarantella-( with the boys carrying lutes), Czardas-( all the men sporting beards)- and Mazurka. And then the pdd, with the nice vintage touches we have all seen from the available YouTube videos. 

This is allegedly the 95 Drigo's edition of the score, and so in giving way to authenticity,  we lose quite a bit of Tchaikovsky.  Lots of cuts everywhere, particularly at the "revealing of Odile" climax.

Fouetteometer alert: Again, 25 singles on Jennifer Lauren.

Can't thank you enough for these reports!

 

 

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Double take yesterday.  Matinee and evening.

The Valse Campetre has become an eye tearing moment for me.  I usually respond better, in ballet, to group dances rather than individual ones. In other words....I'm not a stage door type of guy, if you know what I mean. And the valse is glorious. The patterns are spectacular,  and very "Imperial ballet " looking.  It is ALL about the stools. At one point the whole group suddenly makes a pattern resembling a bouquet of flowers. The up and down from and to the stools has to be done VERY quickly and placement needs to be achieved super fast.  It is quite nerve wracking at times.  I saw a couple of near accidents that, thankfully,  never happened.

The mazurka dresses are glorious. I keep looking at the skirts pattern, trying to capture the way they are constructed, because they truly look out of a 1950's Christian  Dior catalogue. They have that right volume and length of the couturier's post war "New Look", and they basically have a dance of their own. Floaty and ethereal.   Kuddos to Jerome Kaplan.

Odile's variation is SUPER quick.  Ratmansky went for the tempo usually found in the original piano renditions of it, Tchaikovsky's piano piece "L'Espiegle ".  

Fouetteometer alert: 25 singles for Samantha Hope Galler.

Did Ratmansky instructed the ballerinas to stop after 25, I wonder....? There's a famous quote of Legnani I read somewhere amused at how her perceived 32 hadn't really been so. 😄

Nah....that's not what's happening,  and we all know it right...😶

 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Double take yesterday.  Matinee and evening.

The Valse Campetre has become an eye tearing moment for me.  I usually respond better, in ballet, to group dances rather than individual ones. In other words....I'm not a stage door type of guy, if you know what I mean. And the valse is glorious. The patterns are spectacular,  and very "Imperial ballet " looking.  It is ALL about the stools. At one point the whole group suddenly makes a pattern resembling a bouquet of flowers. The up and down from and to the stools has to be done VERY quickly and placement needs to be achieved super fast.  It is quite nerve wracking at times.  I saw a couple of almost accidents that, thankfully,  never happened.

The mazurka dresses are glorious. I keep looking at the skirts pattern, trying to capture the way they are constructed, because they truly look out of a 1950's Christian  Dior catalogue. They have that right volume and length of the couturier's post war "New Look", and they basically have a dance of their own. Floaty and ethereal.   Kuddos to the costume designer.

Odile's variation is SUPER quick.  Ratmansky went for the tempo usually found in the original piano renditions of it, Tchaikovsky's piano piece "L'Espiegle ".  

Fouetteometer alert: 25 singles for Samantha Hope Galler.

Did Ratmansky instructed the ballerinas to stop after 25, I wonder....? There's a famous quote of Legnani I read somewhere amused at how her perceived 32 hadn't really been so. 😄

Nah....that's not what's happening,  and we all know it right...😶

 

Thanks for your reports. 

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I am guilty of having tarnished my viewing yesterday, after getting carried away a bit too much watching old Cuban SL videos earlier in the day. I don't really do it at all anymore. At some point, years ago, I decided to part with my recollections and get used to the here and now. And if 25 traveling 45 degrees is the here and now, so be it.

So I closed the chapter on the dancers and just focused 100 % on the production. 

The mime is the crown jewel of Ratmansky's reconstruction. I believed I knew all the mime codes in existence...and I was wrong! 😃 So I learned the miming formula to announce that "the prince is coming!"-( Benno to all his friends in the ballet opening). Sword gesture and a signaling of an invisible feathered cap. There is also a lot of "new" dialogue, particularly between Odette and Siegfried in their act IV reunion.

As with Peter Martins, there are black swans as well in the lake in act IV. Oh....and Von Rothbart has a set of spectacular folding wings for his lake stunts,  completely different as anything I've seen before, made of something that is definitely not fabric, but rather like a soft plastic or hard crepe. And they fold and unfold quite nicely.

Fouetteometer alert. 25 singles and triple pirouettes at the end from Jennifer Lauren. 

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I saw a total of 9 Swan Lakes with four casts.  I can absolutely and shamelessly declare I know the ballet inside out by now.

So let's recap its most important points.

-Acts I and II are the strongest.  Act I's winner is the marvelous Valse Campetre, complete with a wonderful maypole and pretty group poses. Act II truly looks like a XIX Century Imperial postcard, with the bell shaped tutus, the group poses that include maidens leaning on Siegfried's men and of course...the resuscitation of Benno as a helper during the Pas de deux-a-trois.

-Tempi and general flowing of the whole ballet is much quicker and less posed than the sacrosanct uber-academic way the ballet, particularly act II, has come to our modern times.  The Pas de deux-a-trois might be the biggest shock.  Instead of the highly stylized, super slow display of extensions and extreme serious faces we inherited from the Soviets, here the movements are faster, the poses are almost non existent and the whole thing feels more like a candid, warm love affair moment where movement and not placement is the center of attention.  The arabesques are low, the heads never go down to the floor, the wrists are not broken, the mouths and eyes lack the very favored dramatic rictus. The pas de deux starts, continues in a nice, placid way and suddenly is over without giving us the feeling that we just attended an adagio class. It is beautiful but not overwhelming.  Another section that here loses a much celebrated passage is at the end of act II, when Odette exits the stage, in many productions after a struggle in between Siegfried and Von Rothbart.  Many companies have the ballerina portray the transformation from human form to swan while exiting , favoring an exaggerated swan-like port de bras.  Not here.  Ratmansky simply gets Von Rothbart to suddenly come and yank Odette from Siegfried's arms to take her offstage in a very quick maneuver.  End of Act II.

Acts III and IV are the most complicated due to different reasons.  Act III is the one that suffers the most, and here's why.  Throughout the years, different companies have strongly relayed on original 1877 music that had been discarded by Petipa in 1895 to embellish the act. From Peter Martin's adorable jester and his tree mini-jesters to the "Dance of the Corps de Ballet and the Dwarves", to McKenzie's hypnotic dance for Purple Rothbart to the "Danse Russe" to even using the coda of the 1877 Pas de Six  for the Odile/Siegfried pdd-(in the Nureyev/Fonteyn version)-, or even substituting the Drigo addition of "L'Espiegle" for Odile with one of  the 1877 Pas de Six variations, as with the version of La Scala.  The "revealing of Odile" section is also much shorter in the 1895 version, and the National dances omit many repetitions from 1877.  In short...the Petipa/Drigo ballroom act is way less elaborated, musically, than the original 1877.  The six princesses dance their waltz-(unlike the 77 version in which the tune is three times interrupted by fanfarres and then re started)- the national dances do their thing and right before you realized you have the Odile/Siegfried PDD-(of course...no black swan here whatsoever).  So here's the thing.  Due to the shorter, quicker nature of the ballroom act, it is quite a necessity to really have a strong technician who can do those 32 fouettes.  Otherwise the whole thing goes quite grey.  The sets and costumes are not as opulent as, let's say, McKenzie's , although less bare than Martins'.  The act doesn't really make the fouettes section the focal point.  There's no stopping for applauses as with the Bolshoi and Mariinsky.  The revealing of Odile is also not as spectacular as McKenzie's.  They duo just run away after a few laughs.  The Queen Mother doesn't fain either.  Curtain is down very quickly.

To be continued.

 

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1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

The act doesn't really make the fouettes section the focal point.  There's no stopping for applauses as with the Bolshoi and Mariinsky.  The revealing of Odile is also not as spectacular as McKenzie's.  They duo just run away after a few laughs.  The Queen Mother doesn't fain either.  Curtain is down very quickly.

 

That part sounds very Balanchine, actually - the de-emphasis on posing, 'tricks' and milking the applause.
Btw, a very nice commentary, Cubanmiamiboy - thanks for taking the time.

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